Education

Jump To:
Image

Open Recommendations

College Closures: Education Should Improve Outreach to Borrowers about Loan Discharges

GAO-22-104403
Aug 10, 2022
Show
4 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should implement additional strategies to identify college closures in a timely manner. For example, Education could leverage available data to identify potential closures, record known closures as soon as possible, and impose penalties on colleges that do not report closures. (Recommendation 1)
Open
Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, but identified steps it would take to address it. Education explained how the new data system it is implementing in fall 2022 will facilitate faster reporting of school closures. Further, Education described its plans to review cases where a school failed to submit a timely report to determine whether to initiate fine actions and stated it expects that this approach will deter schools from failing to report closures in a timely manner. Education released a solicitation in May 2022 for a new servicing system that includes several provisions aimed at addressing various issues we identified in our report and recommendations, but Education officials said it is too early to commit to an implementation date since the contract has not been awarded yet. We will continue to monitor the development and implementation of the new servicing system.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should instruct loan servicers to use more frequent reports from Education on closures, such as the weekly reports, to send notifications to borrowers of their potential eligibility for a closed school discharge earlier. (Recommendation 2)
Open
Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, but identified steps it would take to address it. Education released a solicitation in May 2022 for a new servicing system that includes a requirement for servicers to monitor college closures on a weekly basis to identify borrowers that may be eligible for a closed school discharge. We will continue to monitor the development and implementation of the new servicing system.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should develop guidance for what information loan servicers should include in the notification letters they send to borrowers after a school closure informing them about their eligibility for a discharge. (Recommendation 3)
Open
Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, but identified steps it would take to address it. The agency released a solicitation in May 2022 for a new servicing system that includes a requirement for servicers to use a new notification letter template developed by Education that includes the key information we highlight in our report that borrowers need to make an informed decision. Education stated it has also shared the template with its current servicers. We will continue to monitor the development and implementation of the new servicing system.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should ensure additional outreach is provided to at-risk borrowers who are potentially eligible for a closed school discharge. At a minimum, this should include additional communication to borrowers with student loans in delinquency or default. (Recommendation 4)
Open
Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, but identified steps it would take to address it. The agency released a solicitation in May 2022 for a new servicing system that includes a requirement for contractors to proactively remind borrowers about their eligibility and associated benefits of the loan discharge in all borrower communications, as well as a requirement for servicers to provide this information when an eligible borrower contacts the servicer's call center. These actions are positive steps that would benefit borrowers if Education implements the new servicing system. We will continue to monitor the development and implementation of the new servicing system.

Higher Education: Education Needs to Strengthen Its Approach to Monitoring Colleges' Arrangements with Online Program Managers

GAO-22-104463
May 05, 2022
Show
2 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education The Secretary of Education should provide additional instructions for inclusion in the Compliance Supplement to help auditors better identify and assess potential incentive compensation ban violations when a college contracts with an OPM. Additional instructions should prompt auditors to ask specifically about OPMs, direct auditors to obtain and assess compensation information for OPM staff who provide recruiting services, and reference relevant guidance including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. (Recommendation 1)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and stated that the agency plans to propose revisions to OMB that would strengthened the Compliance Supplement's treatment of the ban on incentive compensation. To close this recommendation, Education should provide GAO with the revised instructions for inclusion in the Compliance Supplement that include a prompt to auditors to ask specifically about OPMs, directions to obtain and assess compensation information for OPM staff who provide recruiting services, and references to relevant guidance.
Department of Education The Secretary of Education should provide additional instructions to colleges regarding the information they must provide about their OPM arrangements during compliance audits and program reviews. Additional instructions should explain that colleges are responsible for both identifying all OPM contracts that include recruiting, and then providing auditors and Education's program review staff with copies of those contracts and information on how covered OPM staff are compensated. (Recommendation 2)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and stated that the agency plans to revise its instructions to colleges about program reviews and audits to improve the agency's enforcement of the ban on incentive compensation. To close this recommendation, Education should provide GAO with these revised instructions.

Federal Student Aid: Education Needs to Take Steps to Ensure Eligible Loans Receive Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness

GAO-22-103720
Apr 20, 2022
Show
5 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should develop and implement procedures to identify loans that are at higher risk of having payment tracking errors for Income-Driven Repayment loan forgiveness, and take steps to ensure that eligible borrowers with such loans receive timely forgiveness. These steps could include procedures for verifying and correcting payment counts or other actions to address any potential errors that could affect forgiveness for these higher-risk loans. (Recommendation 1)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and identified steps it plans to take to implement it. Specifically, Education stated that it would develop and implement procedures to identify and correct inaccurate payment counts. We will monitor the agency's progress on these efforts.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should ensure additional information about IDR forgiveness rules and requirements, including what counts as a qualifying payment toward forgiveness, is included in key communications to borrowers enrolled in IDR plans. Education could provide this information to borrowers or could direct servicers to provide it. (Recommendation 2)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and identified steps it plans to take to implement it. Specifically, Education stated that it would update key documents and information sources. We will monitor the agency's progress on these efforts.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should ensure IDR borrowers are regularly notified about the option to request their counts of qualifying payments toward IDR forgiveness and the option to request verification of those counts if needed. Education could provide this information to borrowers or could direct servicers to provide it. (Recommendation 3)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and identified steps it plans to take to implement it. Specifically, Education said it will make clear on its website and in other communications how borrowers can request reviews of their payment counts both through their loan servicer and with the FSA Ombudsman. We will monitor the agency's progress on these efforts.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should develop and implement procedures for verifying counts of qualifying payments toward IDR forgiveness when requested by borrowers so that any inaccuracies can be corrected. (Recommendation 4)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and identified steps it plans to take to implement it. Specifically, Education said it would develop and implement procedures for verifying counts of qualifying payments toward IDR forgiveness.
Office of Federal Student Aid The Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid should ensure regular updates on counts of qualifying payments toward IDR forgiveness are provided to, at a minimum, IDR borrowers who did not have loans serviced by Education's original loan servicer for the Direct Loan program. (Recommendation 5)
Open
Education agreed with this recommendation and identified steps it plans to take to implement it. Specifically, Education stated that it would enhance its web tools so all borrowers can view their IDR payment counts at their discretion throughout their repayment lifecycle. We will monitor the agency's progress on these efforts.

District of Columbia Charter Schools: DC Public Charter School Board Should Include All Required Elements in Its Annual Report

GAO-22-105226
Mar 21, 2022
Show
1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
DC Public Charter School Board PCSB should provide information in its annual report on all elements required in the School Reform Act and, as appropriate, provide links to where additional information can be found on its website. (Recommendation 1)
Open
PCSB concurred with this recommendation. We will monitor the agency's progress on its efforts to implement this recommendation.
GAO Contacts